Sevilla v Espanyol – Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium at 21:15 live on Sky Sports 3
The La Liga officially kicks off this weekend, and after their defeats in both cup finals Sevilla will want to put that behind them and start the new campaign with a win as they host Espanyol at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium on Saturday night.
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Sevilla haven’t had the greatest starts to their first year under Jorge Sampaoli having already lost the UEFA Super Cup Final to Real Madrid in extra-time, before also losing the Spanish Super Cup to Barcelona 5-0 over two legs.
But one positive for the club is that they will be competing in the Champions League yet again after their third consecutive win of the Europa League Final against Liverpool.
Pre-season seemed to go well however, winning all of their club friendlies, and in the transfer market they managed to capture Franco Vasquez, Joaquin Correra and Ganso for a combined total of £31 million. Meanwhile, in the other direction Kevin Gameiro, Fernando Llorente and Grzegorz Krychowiak all departed the Spanish outfit.
Four players are out injured for Sevilla, including Michael Krohn-Dehli who faces five months out with a fractured kneecap, while Sebastian Cristoforo is the only player banned for the opening match of La Liga.
From what I saw of this team against Real Madrid in the Super Cup was a side who dominated possession and were unlucky not to win, and if they play like that against this Espanyol side we may be looking at three points on the opening day.
Their opponents finished last season 13th in La Liga and five points off the bottom three, so they did what any other club would do and sacked their manager. Now Quique Sanchez Flores, the former Watford manager, is in charge of helping this club climb higher up the table.
Pre-season seemed to go well for the Spaniard having not lost a single game, while in their last friendly before their campaign kicks off they drew with Italian Champions Juventus 2-2 in Turin; Gerard Moreno scoring the second with Victor Sanchez being sent off.
In the transfer window six players have left the club on free transfers, but Flores has helped bring in seven players including Jose Antonio Reyes from Sevilla and Martin Demichelis from Manchester City on free transfers; spending under £7 million in total.
There are no suspensions or injuries for Espanyol, and this is a dream scenario for the new manager considering he can take advantage of a fully fit squad to take on a morally drained Sevilla side.
The last time these two clubs met Espanyol won 1-0 at home; Felipe Caicedo scoring the goal. However, Sevilla have won their last three meetings at home, and the visitors have not won at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium since 2011.
Looking at a Sevilla win for this one. Their unbeaten home record against Espanyol speaks for itself, and with both clubs under the transition of a new manager Sevilla have had a better test and may go into this match more prepared than their rivals.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sevilla -0.75 @ 1.90 with Pinnacle
Prices correct at time of writing.